New Publication: Impacts of COVID-19 on Diverse Farm Systems in Tanzania and South Africa

Emerging information on the interactions between the COVID-19 pandemic and global food systems has highlighted how the pandemic accentuates food crises across Africa. But there is little clarity on how the impacts differ between farming systems.

In this paper, AFRICAP researchers present results based on interviews with 50 farmers, village leaders and extension officers in South Africa and Tanzania. The interviews aimed to understand the effects of COVID-19 on their work and livelihoods as well as identifying associated measures to curb the spread of the disease on farming production systems, the coping mechanisms adopted by farmers, and explored their longer-term plans for the adaptation.

Farmers’ responses were heterogeneous, with highly diverse small-scale farming systems and those less engaged with international markets least affected by the associated COVID-19 measures. Large-scale farmers indicated that they were able to access capital to buffer short-term impacts, whereas smaller-scale farms shared labour, diversified to subsistence produce and sold assets. Compounded shocks, however, such as recent extreme climate events, limited the available coping options, particularly for smaller-scale and emerging farmers.

The paper concludes by highlighting the need to understand the characteristics of farm systems to better equip and support farmers, particularly in contexts of uncertainty.

Access the paper in the journal ‘Sustainability